MEET Greg James Thomson! Greg has evolved from landscape photography to capturing stories though portraits, live concert performances and events. He is an active member and supporter in the Orillia Arts Community, always with camera ready to document and promote local exhibitions and artists that he highlights on his facebook page Orillia Arts Scene.
Currently, his selected photography work is available at Art & Home Studio and he has a piece available in the Orillia Museum of Art & History's upcoming Sir Sam's Club Membership fundraiser.
READ ON to discover Greg's story and learn more about his work and photography services!
Describe your journey into photography and how has your practice evolved over the past few years?
In hindsight I've always enjoyed and been fascinated by photography. But my journey into photography began in 2013 when I bought my first DSLR for my Muskoka based property maintenance/inspection business. I needed to get detailed pictures to send to clients. Soon after I bought the camera I bought a wide-angle lens and found myself pulling off to the side of the roads in Muskoka because a landscape caught my eye. In September of 2014 I was working near Killbear Provincial Park and decided to head there with my camera after work and take some landscape shots. It had been raining all day but when I got to Killbear the sun broke through. I was running around the park, clicking on the "landscape" preset and one image caught my eye when editing. I found an online printing company with a 50% off sale and decided to order some large prints to use as Christmas gifts. I gave one to my niece and her husband for their home in Nunavut, and I gave one to my brother and his wife. My sister-in-law Lori posted a picture of it on Facebook and the response was quite positive. I soon found myself thinking about photography 24/7 and took pictures constantly.
In November of 2015 my father passed away and with the small inheritance I received I decided to upgrade to a professional grade camera and lenses. I also decided that, after 18 years in Muskoka, it was time to move back to my hometown of Orillia and pursue a career as a photographer. Since then I have evolved from a landscape photographer to a portrait photographer.
What plans do you have for your artistic practice in the future?
My future plans involve having a studio, again. I would love a place where I could have my gear, and design backdrops for concept photo shoots. I'm not a "PhotoShop" guy so I like to create the magic in-camera. I'd also like my own wall space to display my work. I love all aspects of photography but portrait work is quite fun. I'll see about weddings. From a gear standpoint, I need more....always.
What is/are your favourite subject(s) to photograph?
That's a really tough question! It's like picking a favourite child. My favourite images immerse the viewer. In landscape shots I try to incorporate the "golden ratio" and leave enough negative space to leave the viewer wanting more. With surf photos I include the wave because it's part of the story. In portraits I look for a 'look' that tells the story. With concert photos I want the viewer to feel like they're there. It's all about story, and letting the viewer feel it.
Any upcoming projects or events? How do people connect with you?
I recently wrapped up a project for Couchiching Jubilee House volunteering my photography services for their "Fearless Females" calendar. Currently I'm working on my own annual calendar of 2018 images. I did 30 days of long exposures in September, so I'm thinking of using some of those shots. I also recently got a paid job with Car Media 2.0 to photograph automobiles for marketing purposes.
My website is www.gjthomson.com, contact me via email, phone 705-645-8984, or connect with me through my Facebook Page gjthomsonphotography or on Instagram.
Bio: Greg James Thomson moved with his family just north of Orillia in 1970. His father Hugh sold a patent to Otaco and started working there. He graduated from Park Street Collegiate and Georgian College with a major in Business Marketing. In the early 1990’s Greg worked in the radio industry and eventually moved to the Muskoka area to help start-up the MooseFM chain of stations. Over the years, he has operated several successful businesses and continues to pursue the entrepreneurial spirit. Greg moved back to Orillia in 2016 to pursue photography work.
MEET Peter Fyfe! Peter's strong, energetic paintings are eye candy. They draw you in with a beautiful balance of colour, form and lines while his assemblages (pictured in above photo) reflect his literal view of the world.
READ ON to learn about Peter's process and discover his work!
Your paintings depict strong lines, vibrant colour and form – what are you trying to convey with your work – themes, emotions, statements?
I have two approaches, as I tend to produce either abstract paintings, or my more conceptual “constructions”. As a person who has coped with episodes of mental anguish most of my life, when I’m actually in a productive mindset I try to dwell in that happy place – the bright colours, and curving lines. For many years I drew everyday, sketching out my interest in chairs at first, before gravitating to simple, decorative drawings, with simple, repeating forms and shapes. In the same way, in painting I explored straight-lined chairs and partial views of chairs before canoes became my obsession. So with those, I’m in an abstract frame of mind, taking something familiar or ordinary and pushing it to the limit of what can be recognized. It’s almost musical, though I would never pretend to be a musician but as musician Laurie Anderson says, ‘the purpose of art is to provide what life does not”. So, many of my works have musical titles. A great deal of my inspiration comes from years listening to the Beatles and such over and over, but also art history and my fellow artists in general.
Love your piece in the 2018 OMAH Carmichael Exhibition, can you describe your thought process behind its creation? Is this the beginning of a new series?
Thank you for that. It’s called “AVP, An Apparatus for Viewing Landscapes”, and its about exploring ideas and getting away from just flat painting. I’ve always done dimensional work, but it has always been less productive for me; each piece actually takes a lot of time considering different ways to approach an idea, and then finding materials and objects through which I can convey that idea. For a long time I’ve explored ideas of sentimentalism, privilege and power imbalances. For instance, who gets to do what in our society. This work tackles materiality, environmentalism and the art world through those lenses. In that vein, my big question would be, “Who gets to shape art the way it needs to be seen, the artist or the art market?” That probably sounds very heady, but I actually want people to see the humour in the piece.
As for a series, yes I have already sketched out 15-20 smaller pieces I would love to get to. They’ll challenge my carpentry skills for sure. To get to those, I first have a painting commission to complete, and then continuing to be productive will be the greater challenge. However, I must say, as an artist being involved in the OMAH’s Carmichael Show has been a great boost, and I look forward to seeing how my art unfolds over the next year or so.
As an ‘Orillia’ based Artist, what are your thoughts on the art community and where do you see it/hope to see it 5-10 years from now?
I’m a reluctant person socially, but I try to find ways of getting out there and being involved. Participating in group shows at OMAH is one way, but I also use social media quite a bit – I admin a few groups on facebook, “Orillia Artists”, “Canadian Artists for Truth and Reconciliation”, and a group for my own followers. I also have tried to blog, but I find it very distracting and too time intensive – if you read one of my long posts, you’d see why [laughs]. But then there is Streets Alive projects, which I’ve done four plus a few banners. Streets Alive, organized by Leslie Fournier is very energizing, very public.
The Arts District seems very alive with studios, retail spaces and galleries, and especially new, younger faces, which is nice to see. That’s fantastic. With support from the city and a continued influx of what looks like that youth movement taking hold, Orillia will grow as a very vibrant place in many ways – the music, theatre, and the visual arts scene. I encourage others to visit downtown and encourage that growth.
Where may people connect with you and your work, online and in-person. Any upcoming events or exhibitions?
I sell some works online at Saatchi Art which is a good place to look at my last five years or so. I have my website, Fyfe Art which is like this whole survey of everything I’ve ever made! And the blog is there as well as my e-mail. I’ve got a book of drawings available at the OMAH gift store – I tell people it’s the world’s only hardback colouring book! I haven’t participated in an exhibition in a very long time, outside of the Orillia Museum of Art & History, and the Zephyr Gallery back in 2015-16. My favorite way to communicate is on facebook, but I’m in the phone book, for those who still use one of those! And of course, I’m always available just to meet for coffee and talk about commissioned works.
Peter Fyfe is originally from Kingston (Ontario), where he grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. His formal arts education began atYork University Ontario (1982-1986) where he earned hisFine Arts degree studying painting and sculpture. After that there was a stint at the Banff School of Fine Arts, 1986-1987, and then things got wrapped up with a Bachelor of Education (Artist in The Community Program) from Queen's University 1993-94.
For fifteen years, Fyfe taught mostly at Gravenhurst High School, 1999 – 2015, and mostly in Social Sciences, as well as Visual Arts, but also significant course work in Communications Technology, Media, and Business Studies.
Today, Fyfe feels like a re-emerging artist, working from home in Orillia, no studio, but where he also happens to live with his wife Jennifer, two lovely children and two cats.
MEET Sylvia Tesori! I first met Sylvia a few years ago when she came to Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery & Studio asking about being a Guest Artist - ever since she has been a part of the downtown Orillia Arts District community and a great friend. The past year we shared gallery/shop space together and it was a fun, creative adventure. I spent a great deal of time surrounded by her work and was continuously awed by the vibrant energy, colours and unique story of each piece!
Read ON to learn more about Sylvia and her work!
Your work has a very spiritual quality, where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from the natural world. I spent years working outside and refused all jobs that had me “caged”. I love Ontario’s forests and waters. My favorite inhabitants are the birds! Inspiration also comes from my dreams; birds soar, crows speak, deers listen and bears lead.
You make soap! As an artist, how does your creativity transfer into the making of your soap and body products?
I am always making something, and love to try new mediums. The soap and other body items are a great blend of my creativity and science skills. I was trained as a scientist, and though I no longer work in that field, I continue to teach sciences at the high school and college levels. It’s really satisfying to be able to offer a great, healthy product that everyone needs anyway!
You have a street level business in the Orillia Arts District - What is your favourite part about operating a gallery/shop?
My favorite part of being in a street level gallery in the Orillia Arts District is the people. I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. It is also a lot of fun to have a visitor and see their reaction to my art; it’s so cool when someone connects and sees what you see.
Where may people find your work, in person and online?
Three Crows Speak Studio is located at 9 Peter St. S, in downtown Orillia's Arts District. My website is Three Crows Speak Studio or find me on Facebook: Three Crows Speak Studio.
Upcoming: Find Sylvia at First Light at Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, November 22 to 24, November 29 to December 1, and December 6-9, 5:30 to 9:00pm.
Meet Christina Hartwick, multimedia artist who specializes in amazing and beautiful wire sculptures! I am always enthralled at the detail and unique character of each of her creations! Visit Christina this weekend during for her first Art Studio Open House, October 6 to 8 (co-hosted with artist Cheryl Sartor).
Read ON to discover Christina's inspirations and more about her work!
What path led you to working with wire? What other mediums do you work with when creating?
I first started out doing portrait drawings of people and animals. Wire became a new form of drawing for me which brought my drawings off the paper and into a 3D form. I enjoy working with many different mediums. Some of my favourites are wire, wood, rock, paints, fabric, pen & ink, pencil & coloured pencils. I most enjoy sculpting and working with hand tools and electric tools.
Your work feels whimsical yet very strong and grounded, what is your inspiration?
At the family cottage was where I found a lot of my inspiration. I would sketch just about anything at anytime. I would take extensive time shading with pencils, coloured pencils or pastels. I would always travel with my pencils and sketch book. One time I had forgotten my supplies back home and felt lost. So I began a search for other textiles. I came across some rusty old wire in the garage and that’s where it all began. I brought the drawings in my mind to life into a 3D form. It was very satisfying to see those images come off the page. I believe art heals the artist and the ones who appreciate it and want to know more of its story.
What are your favourite subjects to create? Do you accept commissions?
Outdoor and large sculptures are my most favourite to create. Being able to create large pieces without welding is a complex process and the outcome is always engaging.
I have and do accept commissions.
Where may people find your work, in person and online?
My art can be found at Art & Home Studio, Orillia Opera House and the Orillia Museum of Art & History. On facebook, find my work on my All Wired Up - Wire Sculptures and Mixed Media Art page.
Contact me through e-mail or at my studio 705-326-6713.
Website up soon! www.allwiredupartist.com
Artist Bio: Originally from Newmarket, Christina has always had a passion and a appreciation for all forms of art and music. She took art through high school and continued her love of Fine Arts throughout the years as a self taught artist. Christina has called Orillia home for many years and would visit the parks camping as a child. She has participated in local art events such as, Art Meets History, Maple Masterpieces/Streets Alive, Women’s Art Show Exhibit, Woods End Studio Tour, Art Studio Open Tour and Somniatis The Wearable Art Show. Christina has her art displayed for sale at the Orillia Museum of Art History, The Orillia Opera House and Art & Home Studio. She is also a member of The Orillia Fine Arts Association. Christina is hugely inspired by her two children, exploring the outdoors, wildlife and music. She works with wire as her prominent form which requires a level of manual dexterity and her sculptures are of life like proportion as well as abstract.
Meet Kathryn Kaiser. Kathryn creates beautiful, thought-provoking images, scenes and stories through her art. Her work's intense yet subtle energy is mesmerizing. Find her studio at STOP F of the Images Studio Tour THIS weekend, October 5 to 8, 10am to 5pm daily!
READ ON to discover more about Kathryn and her work ....
Your work emanates with emotion - What are the core themes and what do you hope people absorb from viewing your work?
I paint what moves me. If an image, an event or a vision leaves an impression, I will often find a way to attempt to capture it in my work. It is not that I have a strong desire to educate viewers, but I am always pleased when a piece inspires someone to stop and consider the story behind it. Occasionally my work may push people outside their comfort zones. Although this is often a frightening place to be, it is also where I tend to learn the most about myself and the world. I consider a piece successful if it provokes an emotional response in the viewer.
Your depiction of light is amazing. What medium do you paint in and what inspires your colour palette?
I have always been in awe of the way light affects what we see: shape, colour, depth and mood. Light defines everything in our physical and visual world.
Oils are my medium of choice, and I also work in acrylic, charcoal, and chalk pastel. I am looking to experiment with other media. I have done a bit of water colour, clay sculpture, and would very much like to learn more about printing and working in metal.
I am not overly conscientious about the colour palette I use, and tend to let the colour mixing become intuitive. I begin with a fairly limited selection of colours and mix what is needed from these. I can see that I am drawn to warm, rich colours and love to play with the contrast of warm and cool, and how that defines space (depth) in a piece. Understanding colour is certainly an ongoing process. Not being very scientific or technical about colour mixing, I have the messiest palette board ever. More than a few of my teachers would cringe at these words.
You recently opened your own Artist Studio – any future plans for workshops, events?
Oh yes, I have a studio! It is wonderful to finally have a dedicated space to work, and I am so excited (as is my family) to finally be out of the living and dining room. I would very much like to run workshops, and have other creatives use it as well. Our plan is to make the costs accessible to instructors to facilitate workshops both in the studio and outside. I would enjoy having a drop in studio for parents with kids one day a month, for example. We also have a 48 acre property with bush and trails that we would love to use. I would love to have a drop in studio for parents with kids one day a month.
You are participating in the upcoming Images Studio Tour, but where else may people find your work, in person and online?
Currently my work is only available to see in person in my studio, which is open by chance or by appointment. I have many of my pieces on my website, which will also show links to upcoming shows and exhibits. Plans are to exhibit at a couple of different galleries in Orillia in the near future. Stay in touch for updates on upcoming events.
Find Kathryn's work online on her website Verity Blue Studio, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Behance.
Artist Bio: Kathryn Kaiser is an artist & designer living outside of Coldwater, Ontario. Largely self-taught, she has been painting just over six years now. Her main focus is portraiture and landscapes, which are emotionally charged and often reflect an aspect of the human condition. She approaches each piece with a unique perspective... allowing her work to stay fresh, which keeps the whole process ever changing and evolving.
Kathryn is a board member of ODAC (Orillia & District Arts Council). She is an active member of OMAH in Orillia and Quest Art in Midland ON. She is involved in various projects in the Orillia and Coldwater communities and internationally, as well as humanitarian work with new Canadians and refugees.
“The human condition holds the most inspiration for me, and this is where I find myself returning again and again. I am relentless in my search for truth and understanding. It is critical for me to interpret each subject individually. How are we affected by our environment and experiences? Where do we hold our scars, what are our stories?"
Inspiring ARTists & ART!
Greg James Thomson
Murray Van Halem